In 1985 the Department of Tourism reported that the disposal of nonbiodegradable waste was then a serious problem and that there was need for education to increase environmental awareness, and for the use of re-cycling technology. (A report on the WTO 2002) Sewage Disposal In 1980 only two resorts were reported as discharging saltwater flushed toilets to the open sea. In a survey of methods of sewage disposal reported from 34 resorts in 1992, 23 resorts disposed sewage into the ground while 11 discharged sewage to the sea.
A survey in 1993 revealed that at 67 percent of tourist resorts sewage effluent is piped into septic tanks, and the untreated sludge is dealt with by natural processes and soil absorption. At 33 percent of the resorts analyzed, septic tanks and sea outfalls were the reported practices. Measures to protect the environment in cases of direct sewage discharge include the siting of outfall pipes 100m from the island and 30m below mean sea level. (The world bank Maldives. 2009) Sewage disposal has both health implications and environmental consequences.
Aquifer contamination by faecal coliform bacteria or the contamination of bathing waters could give rise to health problems. Since a very small percentage of resorts pump sewage into the sea and even so, these resorts have a very small population it might be concluded that the current levels of sewage emission into the coastal waters of the resorts do not pose very serious problems to human health. The capacity constraints survey carried out in 1992 showed that the sewage discharges from resorts are relatively small and the observed effects were limited.
Even though the volume of waste matter disposed is quite small, nutrients from sewage could build up over time, especially if the process of discharge is not managed well. However, volumes of water and rates of water exchange are large and in view of the productive fisheries, the atolls are probably already subject to relatively high nutrient input from upwellings as oceanic currents hit them. (Safkar. K. , Noronha. L. , 1999) Groundwater There is an increasing move away from using groundwater as a resource in tourist resorts.
Drinking water in tourist resort comes from rainwater which is collected on roofs and stored in large tanks and is now supplemented by desalinated water and imported bottled mineral water. There has also been a move away from the system in which groundwater was used for showering and flushing toilets to one in which saltwater is used for flushing with the wastewater pumped out to sea and desalinated water used for showering. (Safkar. K. , Noronha. L. , 1999) Coral Reefs On tourist resort islands reef damage has been caused by scuba divers, and by snorkelers and bathers walking out across the reef flat.
The greatest threat at present almost certainly arises from snorkelers and bathers, from both inadvertent breakage and deliberate removal of coral and coral fauna for souvenirs. A study at Kurumba Village has assessed the effects of snorkelers on the reef flat/crest at depths up to about 1. 5 m. Results indicate breakage of 18 percent of all Arcopora corals/month. Hence most or all coral colonies of this genus stand to get broken each year, suggesting a significant effect from snorkelers. (Safkar. K. , Noronha. L. , 1999).
Island Vegetation The image of a palm fringed sandy beach and lush tropical vegetation is integral to theperception of, and satisfaction, with Maldives as a tourist designation. At present there is no requirement to survey and consider the vegetation of an island as part of the planning approval process prior to resort development. In the construction process trees and shrubs are cut down and coastal vegetation is removed. Exotic ornamental and fast growing species are imported to replace the vegetation removed and for new resort gardens. The introduction of exotic species not only reduces the ability of the island to recover to its natural state but also the exotic species may overcome local ones directly or through the introduction of pests.
There is also the matter of maintaining the natural perception of the island for marketing purposes. Whilst the palm is the most important vegetation feature on an island, there are local plants that have historic and cultural importance and so have marketing value which imported exotics do not have. (A report on the WTO 2001) 2. 3 Social-cultural impacts of tourism on the Maldives The socio-cultural impacts of tourism is manifested through an enormous range of aspects from the arts and crafts through to the fundamental behavior of individuals and collective groups. (Cooper, C. , Fletcher, J. , and others 2008).
Positive impacts Tourism provides opportunities for regional development particularly for regional areas undergoing structural change. Being a labour intensive industry, with the right encouragement tourism can deliver great employment and training opportunities particularly for young people. Tourism development that “leverages” existing attributes often brings a range of benefits to host communities. Improved infrastructure (power, water, and telecommunications), access, services (banks, transport) and new investments, all serve to enhance the lifestyles of communities. (Gawler visitor information center 2008).
Tourism can help develop new skills or remind to local community about traditions. For example many more cultural activities in the Maldives have intrinsic value for tourism, via interpretation of the traditional skills and crafts and through sale of the crafts (e. g. , grass mats, coir rope, drumming and dance, and of course boat-making boats). Interpretation of these activities can create interest for tourists and at the same time preserve traditional skills. (The world bank Maldives, 2009) Tourism is an interface for cultural exchange, facilitating the interaction between communities and visitors (domestic and international).
Economic benefits aside, outside contact draws attention to the host community. People want to interact with other cultures, learn about traditions and even confront themselves with new perspectives on life and society. It has been said that travel is a means to “discover those things unknown or forgotten within ourselves. ” Tourism is largely an experience driven industry, and local culture is a unique experience – more so local personality, hospitality and food than “built attractions. ” Tourism can be used as a tool for raising awareness.
Branding of local product and achievements creates regional identity both nationally and internationally. Tourism can also raise awareness of local issues and needs. (Gawler visitor information center 2008) There is a global trend towards investment in interpretation of natural and cultural resources. Attraction to natural and heritage icons often helps fund conservation efforts and provides opportunities for effective management of sensitive and significant areas. However, cultural attractions are not the sole drawcard for visitation but provide one of many experiences.
Tourism can boost the preservation and transmission of cultural and historical traditions. This often contributes to the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, the protection of local heritage, and a revival of indigenous cultures, cultural arts and crafts. (A report on the WTO 2001) Negative Impacts Tourism has affected individuals, families, and society in general. The vast majority of workers in tourism are male. Families have been impacted by tourism largely through employment and higher incomes. Most welcome tourism but complain that they have difficulty in marketing their produce to tourists.
(Gawler visitor information center 2008) Lifestyle changes have included the stress of working in tourism itself, a non-traditional employment sector. Workers also feel isolated due to separation from friends and family-and this is not limited to tourism, for most of those living in Male are far from their home atolls. The Maldives employs a large proportion of foreigners; about 50 percent of the workers in resorts are from South Asia. This practice is not sustainable, however, as Maldives needs to generate job opportunities for its young.
Direct local participation in tourism is diminished due to the dominance of the foreign nationals employed in the sector. One more negative impact of tourism is increasing in using of drugs and alcohol seems to be an emerging social problem. Furthermore, the local employees believe that there is discrimination against local staff in resorts. The Maldives are seen as idyllic and close to perfection, the holiday destination of a lifetime, beautiful sandy beaches, turquoise sea and private resort islands. But on the flip side many Maldivians have a very different experience.
Maldivian people are suffering. Fresh fruit and vegetables go directly to tourist islands, by-passing local people. The UN recently found that over 30% of Maldivian children under the age of 5 are suffering from malnutrition. Local people are unable to speak out about these awful conditions. The government continues to impose severe restrictions on freedom of expression. Unfair trial, torture and imprisonment occur all too often. (Tourism concern, 2008) Tourism infrastructure is often accused of taking the “best sites” and local secrets seen as being spectacles and losing their destination appeal.
Planning authorities should ensure that only sites that are tourism ready should be selected for tourism development, if necessary. (The world bank Maldives, 2009) Political discussion of impacts encompasses cultural conflicts and international tourists display attitudes and behaviour which may defy Islamic principles. Scanty dress, public displays of physical affection between members of the opposite sex and sexual permissiveness, drinking alcohol and eating non-halal foodstuffs are all vetoed in Muslim teachings.
Nudism and topless sunbathing at resorts have always been forbidden and Islamic groups have criticised tourists for bringing Western standards to the country and weakening Islamic culture. 3. Suggestions for the future to protect the Maldives. The Department of Tourism and Foreign Investment was organized in 1978 and made responsible for supervision, co-ordination and maintaining standards of tourist services in the country. To develop and regulate tourism, and simultaneously to strengthen the institutional framework for administering and monitoring the industry.
The Environmental Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives (4/93) provided the basic framework for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in the Maldives and under Article 5 (1) of the Act, an impact assessment study shall be submitted to the Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment (MPHRE) before implementing any activity that may have an impact on the environment. (Safkar. K. , Noronha. L. , 1999) According to the regulations issued by the Ministry of Tourism, garbage from tourist resorts should be disposed off in a manner that would not cause any damage to the environment.
All garbage disposed into the sea should be done as far away into the sea as necessary in order to ensure that it does not get washed onto any islands with the current. Tourist resorts are required to have incinerators and compactors adequate in size to burn all flammable materials and crush all the cans respectively. (Safkar. K. , Noronha. L. , 1999) As an important basis for deciding the number of rooms and extent of resort facility development allowed on each resort island, the government has established carrying capacity standards.
These are based on several factors. For the problem like Domestic Access recommended: Explore the possibility of a national high-speed connection (by hovercraft or hydrofoil) with a network of feeder lines, using (modernized) traditional craft. For the problems in Financial Sector recommended: Encourage tourism firms to list on the stock market as the country develops its capital markets, and to adopt employee stock-option plans as a way of increasing participation in ownership and broadening the stakeholder base.
For cultural problems recommended: * Continue to respect cultural diversity * Adopt a top-down approach * Create awareness of the policies, to increase understanding and appreciation * Generate employment through culture-based activities and sustainable tourism * Promote of cultural enterprises (The world bank Maldives 2009) Conclusion The tourism industry of the Maldives is dependent entirely on environmental quality and since it established itself in the tourism market it has maintained its strong position in a rapidly growing market.
However, the natural resources of the Maldives are still in a sufficiently pristine state and of very high aesthetic quality and environmental concerns are few. The Maldives has developed a very suitable form of tourism, appropriate for the small island environment. The present form of tourism development has not generated any serious environmental impacts. This has been accomplished through careful management. The government has developed appropriate policies, legislation and plans and instituted mechanisms to apply strict standards and regulations.